Well that didn’t last very long. Just a few hours after the U.S., European Union, Russia, and Ukraine agreed preliminary to a de-escalation deal in Geneva, it’s it looks as if this diplomatic house of cards is on the verge of collapse.
The pro-Russian rebels who have been occupying buildings in ten eastern Ukrainian cities were supposed to leave as part of the deal but have refused to vacate, saying they won’t do so until the interim government in Ukraine resigns.
Denis Pushilin, a spokesman for the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, told reporters Friday that the agreement is “reasonable” — so long as it also applies to the government in Kiev. In other words, they want the Ukrainian government to abandon any buildings it uses. That is not going to happen.
One of the key tenets in the de-escalation deal is the provision that “all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners” — and there’s a fundamental disagreement among the parties in Ukraine over what’s illegal and who’s legitimate.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But during a press conference on Thursday, President Barack Obama said he was not optimistic about Russia holding up its end of the bargain, and he hinted that more sanctions could be on their way.
“My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days,” Obama said. “But I don’t think given past performance that we can count on that, and we have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to be efforts of interference by the Russians in Eastern and Southern Ukraine.”
The deal also calls for all illegal groups to disarm, all illegally occupied streets and squares to be vacated, and for amnesty to all protesters who have surrendered their weapons. But according to the AP, none of the government buildings have been vacated, and there are no reports of any of the pro-Russian separatists disarming.